Manchin balks at GOP’s smaller infrastructure plan – and says he can back $4 trillion as long as it’s paid for

Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

  • Sen. Manchin rebuked the GOP’s infrastructure plan, saying Senators should “do whatever it takes.”
  • The moderate Democrat added he’s open to spending $4 trillion so long as it’s paid for.
  • The GOP is preparing an up to $800 billion bill, much smaller than Biden’s $2.3 trillion plan, which may be followed by another $2 trillion.
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Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is open to a multitrillion-dollar infrastructure plan. He just wants to see the bill covered.

That could be bad news for Republicans hoping he’ll break with his party on the next massive plan from President Joe Biden’s desk.

Manchin – a moderate Democrat with incredible influence over Senate Democrats’ agenda – rebuked the GOP’s infrastructure plan on Thursday. These comments could reverberate widely.

A group of Senate Republicans is preparing a plan that could range from $600 billion to $800 billion, drastically undercutting President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion proposal. Separately, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is reportedly telling his caucus to praise Manchin in an effort to win his support.

Manchin’s support is critical for Democrats to pass an infrastructure plan of their own. With Democrats only holding 50 seats in the Senate and relying on Vice President Kamala Harris to break a tie, any opposition from Manchin or other moderate Democrats dooms efforts to pass legislation by a simple majority under reconciliation.

The senator from West Virginia told reporters he still sees room for agreement between Democrats and Republicans, but also that he’s willing to go big if the situation warrants such spending.

“I don’t think they’re locked in on any number,” Manchin said. “We’re going to do whatever it takes. If it takes $4 trillion, I’d do $4 trillion, but we have to pay for it.”

The $4 trillion sum evokes the sum Biden is reportedly looking to spend between two infrastructure proposals. The $2.3 trillion plan unveiled in March focuses more on traditional infrastructure and renovations. A follow-up measure – known as the American Families Act – is expected to include funds for universal pre-K, child care, and other social measures.

The infrastructure argument has split Senators along partisan lines as Biden looks to pass legislation that rivals the New Deal. Democrats argue that new benefits like free community college and child care should join traditional infrastructure in a spending package. Republicans balk at this wider definition and are instead pushing for a slimmed-down measure that focuses on rebuilding roads and bridges. In fact, their slimmed-down plan could double the amount spent on this aspect of physical infrastructure.

The two parties need to come to an agreement on the very definition of “infrastructure,” Manchin said. Identifying exactly what elements the bill should cover is paramount to passing legislation in a timely manner, he added.

The GOP’s plan also differs from Biden’s in that it lacks a corporate tax hike. The president proposed lifting the corporate rate to 28% from 21% along with other tax increases to pay for his infrastructure plan. The GOP instead aims to finance their plan with “user fees,” such as taxes on vehicle mileage traveled or possibly pushing for an increase to the gas tax.

GOP senators doubled down on their dismissal of a corporate tax hike, calling such policy a “non-negotiable red line” Thursday afternoon. Still, they appeared far from agreed on the scope of an overall infrastructure package.

The GOP’s stance mirrors that seen in February as both parties readied their respective stimulus packages. Republican Senators pitched a $618 billion measure to the White House that slashed spending on tenets of Biden’s own plan, including stimulus checks and unemployment insurance. Biden ended up approving a $1.9 trillion package that’s since distributed billions of dollars to American households.

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10 GOP Senators plan to propose a new compromise COVID-19 bill which would shrink direct payments to Americans from $1,400 to $1,000

Susan Collins-Rob Portman
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) speaks with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) in the Capitol.

  • Ten GOP senators are planning to float a compromise COVID-19 bill capping stimulus payments at $50,000.
  • Under the GOP proposal, direct payments would be reduced from $1,400 to $1,000.
  • The senators want to meet with Biden and are urging Democrats not to push a package through via reconciliation.
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A group of 10 Senate Republicans announced on Sunday they will soon unveil a $600 billion stimulus package in an effort to strike a compromise with the Biden administration.

The Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, also requested a meeting with President Joe Biden to discuss their proposal. The plan’s size is less than a third of the $1.9 trillion plan envisioned by Biden and most Democratic leaders in Congress.

“We recognize your calls for unity and want to work in good faith with your Administration to meet the health, economic, and societal challenges of the COVID crisis,” the letter said.

In addition to Collins, it was signed by Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Todd Young of Indiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, and Jerry Moran of Kansas.

Details about the forthcoming Republican plan trickled out on Sunday. Portman said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” it would aim the new round of direct payments to Americans who earn less than $50,000 a year and married couples making below $100,000.

According to Cassidy in a separate Fox News appearance, the direct payment amount would be cut from the current $1,400 Democratic proposal to $1,000. The Biden proposal has a provision for a fresh wave of $1,400 stimulus checks for Americans.

The Republican letter also sketched out more about the plan’s provisions. It would extend the $300 federal unemployment benefit; provide $160 billion in funds for virus testing and vaccine distribution; and provide extra money for the Paycheck Protection Program as well as schools.

Read more: The ultimate guide to Biden’s White House staff

Portman, who just last week announced that he would retire in 2022 after two terms, implored Democrats not to push a large relief bill through Congress using the reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority.

Portman and the other nine GOP senators are calling on Biden to act on his call for “unity” and confer with the GOP group in crafting a smaller compromise package.

“My hope is the president will meet with us,” Portman said. 

Since being sworn in, Biden has emphasized he is open to seeking a bipartisan deal with Republicans on an economic relief package. Brian Deese, a top White House economic advisor, said that was still the case.

Biden “is open to ideas wherever they may come,” Deese told NBC News on Sunday. “What he’s uncompromising about is the need to move with speed on a comprehensive plan.”

Democrats, though, are preparing to circumvent Republicans using reconciliation. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Democrats would vote on a budget resolution this week, the first step in the process.

It appears unlikely the Biden administration will sign onto or adopt many elements of a GOP plan which curtails some of their top relief priorities like strengthened unemployment insurance.

“We have learned from past crises that the risk is not doing too much,” Biden said at the White House on Friday. “The risk is not doing enough.”

In December 2020, Congress passed a $900 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief package, which included $600 direct payments to individual Americans and $300 federal unemployment benefits until March 14.

Democratic leaders have set mid-March as a deadline for legislative action because millions of Americans stand to lose their jobless aid after that date.

At the time, Biden made it clear that the December package was only “a down payment” on a more comprehensive bill that he would seek to pass once he was in office.

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‘I don’t know how you can live with yourself’: Joe Manchin slams Sens. Hawley and Cruz, who continued with election challenges after the Capitol riots

Hawley Cruz
GOP Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri, left, and Ted Cruz of Texas, right, speak after Republicans objected to certifying the Electoral College votes from Arizona during a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2020.

  • In an interview with Politico, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia gave a pointed rebuke of GOP Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas in the aftermath of the US Capitol riots on Jan. 6.
  • “There’s no way they cannot be complicit in this,” he said. “That they think they can walk away and say, ‘I just exercised my right as a senator?’ Especially after we came back here and after they saw what happened.”
  • Sens. Hawley and Cruz, who have long been seen as likely 2024 GOP presidential candidates, have faced a flurry of calls to resign since the riots.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In an interview with Politico, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia gave a pointed rebuke of GOP Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas in the aftermath of the US Capitol riots on Jan. 6.

Manchin, a moderate, said that Hawley and Cruz backing President Donald Trump’s election grievances alleging voter fraud and leading the Senate GOP electoral challenge of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory will have serious consequences.

“There’s no way they cannot be complicit in this,” he said. “That they think they can walk away and say, ‘I just exercised my right as a senator?’ Especially after we came back here and after they saw what happened.”

He added: “I don’t know how you can live with yourself right now knowing that people lost their lives.”

Manchin, while in a secure area with other lawmakers during the siege in which five people died, said that he spoke with Hawley, Cruz, and Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Steve Daines of Montana to convince them to drop their electoral objections.

Lankford and Daines chose not to go through with contesting Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over Trump, “when they saw the danger of what happened,” according to Manchin.

Read more: Secret Service experts are speculating in group chats about how Trump might be hauled out of the White House if he won’t budge on Inauguration Day

Once the building was cleared of rioters, Hawley and Cruz still went through with their objections to the Arizona and Pennsylvania vote counts, which both failed.

Biden’s victory was certified early in the morning on January 7.

Sens. Hawley and Cruz, who have long been seen as likely 2024 GOP presidential candidates, have faced a flurry of calls to step down. Several of their Democratic colleagues in the upper chamber, including Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Ron Wyden or Oregon, Chris Coons of Delaware, and Patty Murray of Washington, have all called for both Hawley and Cruz to resign.

Republican colleagues and possible 2024 contenders including Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ben Sasse of Nebraska declined to join in the election challenges.

Former GOP Sen. John Danforth, who represented Missouri in the Senate from 1976 to 1995 and was one of Hawley’s biggest champions in his 2018 Senate campaign, recently lamented his support as “the worst mistake I ever made in my life.”

Both Hawley and Cruz have refused to step down from their seats, but with the fallout from the riots still in the minds of every lawmaker on Capitol Hill, their effectiveness in the Senate will likely be an open question going forward.

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GOP Sen. Pat Toomey says Trump has ‘committed impeachable offenses’

Sen. Pat Toomey
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) questions Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during a hearing of the Congressional Oversight Commission on December 10, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said Saturday said that President Donald Trump has “committed impeachable offenses.”
  • During an interview on Fox News, Toomey said that he was unsure if the Senate would move on any articles of impeachment passed by the Democratic-led House of Representatives before Trump’s term ends in less than two weeks.
  • Toomey is retiring after the 2022 midterms elections.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, who has ardently supported the validity of the 2020 presidential election results, said on Saturday that President Donald Trump has “committed impeachable offenses.”

During an interview on Fox News, Toomey, a two-term Pennsylvania senator who is retiring after the 2022 midterm elections, said he was unsure if the Senate would move on any articles of impeachment passed by the Democratic-led House of Representatives before Trump’s term ends in less than two weeks.

“I don’t know what they are going to send over and one of the things that I’m concerned about, frankly, is whether the House would completely politicize something,” he said.

He continued: “I do think the president committed impeachable offenses, but I don’t know what’s going to land on the Senate floor if anything.”

Toomey serves as one of the senior Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee.

Read more: Secret Service experts are speculating in group chats about how Trump might be hauled out of the White House if he won’t budge on Inauguration Day

The Jan. 6 siege at the Capitol, which represented the building’s worst breach since 1814, forced members of Congress to temporarily halt the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory until the complex was cleared.

Trump, who has been widely criticized for his involvement in the protests aimed at contesting the 2020 election results, as well as the aftermath of the riots, is seeing cracks appear in the once impenetrable base of support among the congressional GOP.

Toomey joins other congressional Republicans in rebuking Trump, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who wants the president to resign, along with Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who would like to see Vice President Mike Pence and Cabinet members use the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office.

GOP Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said during a CBS interview on Friday that he would “definitely consider whatever articles” the House might end up passing.

“I believe the president has disregarded his oath of office,” Sasse said. “He swore an oath to the American people to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. He acted against that.”

On Friday, GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky passed around a memo revealing that a Senate impeachment trial could not begin until Jan. 20, which is also Biden’s inauguration day, unless every senator agrees to begin a session beforehand.

This post has been updated.

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‘It’s not going to be a garden party’: GOP senator suggests that the confirmation process for Biden’s Cabinet nominees won’t be easy

John Barrasso
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming).

  • GOP Sen. John Barrasso on Sunday said that Cabinet nominees brought forward by President-elect Joe Biden in a Republican-controlled Senate should not expect an easy pathway to confirmation, according to Politico.
  • “It’s not going to be a garden party,” he said. “If the Republicans are in the majority, these nominees are going to have to run the gauntlet.”
  • Barrasso compared Biden’s nominees to former President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, saying that the selections resembled a “third term of the Obama administration.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Sen. John Barrasso on Sunday said that Cabinet nominees brought forward by President-elect Joe Biden in a Republican-controlled Senate should not expect an easy pathway to confirmation, emphasizing that the party would make nominees “run the gauntlet,” according to Politico.

The Wyoming Republican and chair of the Senate Republican Conference claimed that President Donald Trump’s nominees were slow-walked compared to previous administrations and stressed that party members “are not going to forget what happened with President Trump’s administration and the delayed process that went through it.”

He added: “So, it’s not going to be a garden party. If the Republicans are in the majority, these nominees are going to have to run the gauntlet.”

While many of Biden’s nominees are expected to receive bipartisan support, including Secretary of State-designate Antony Blinken and former Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, others, including Neera Tanden, the nominee to run the White House Office of Management and Budget, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has been tapped to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, will meet some GOP resistance.

Barrasso compared Biden’s nominees to former President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, saying that the selections resembled a “third term of the Obama administration.”

He then stated that former two-term Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Energy, would present some issues for him due to past comments that she’s made regarding fossil fuels. As governor of the Midwestern state from 2003 to 2011, she worked with Obama and Biden in overseeing the auto industry bailout during the Great Recession.

Granholm would have a hand in carrying out Biden’s proposed climate policy as part of her role as Energy Secretary. That $2 trillion proposal includes moving the country to a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035, and investing heavily in infrastructure and the auto industry.

If Republicans capture the two Senate seats in the January 2021 Georgia runoff elections, they’ll have 52 seats in the upper chamber, and therefore secure the majority. In such a scenario, Barrasso would be set to lead the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which would take up Granholm’s nomination. However, if Democrats win both seats, they’ll have the majority, and Biden will be able to move his nominees through with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote.

“If you want accountability and not just a rubber stamp for a Joe Biden Cabinet, you need to have people like me as chairman of the Energy Committee,” he said. “You bet, I’m going to ask tough questions.”

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